What an Employer Can Do to Prevent Becoming the Next Weinstein or Wynn

HR Dive

David W. Garland, Member of the Firm and Chair of the firm’s National Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Steering Committee, authored an article in HR Dive, titled, “What an Employer Can Do to Prevent Becoming the Next Weinstein or Wynn.”

Following is an excerpt:

Our earlier columns have focused on the risks to a company where allegations of sex harassment against a founder or other key players have made headlines. We’ve talked in general terms about the need for the C-suite to implement an effective HR strategy – and the need for the board to embrace a culture where HR plays a major role in company leadership. Now, we’ll begin to drill down on specific steps that should be taken to minimize the risk that an employer finds itself in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

First and foremost, your anti-harassment policy must be backed up with action. It’s not enough to have a policy that says the right things. The company must do the right things – and create a culture of compliance. That means when a harassment complaint is made, it must be promptly investigated by experienced independent investigators (either employed by the company or brought in from the outside for the sole purpose of investigating the complaint). You don’t want to hear that a complaint wasn’t made because the employee felt that the complaint would be swept under the rug, nothing would happen or the company would retaliate against the complainant.

The victim must be promptly interviewed to get a thorough understanding of the allegations: What happened? When did it happen? Who witnessed it? What relevant documents — including e-mails, texts, social media posts and instant messaging — can be recovered and reviewed?